Why it’s important that boys watch Frozen

As I mentioned last week, my four year old son loves Frozen. Which, given it’s primarily a film about Disney princesses would seem odd, if it wasn’t such a great kids story. Not all boys see it that way. My son has been having a debate with his best friend on exactly this heavyweight question. Well I say debate, I expect in reality it went like this:

Frozen is for girls.
No it’s not
Yes it is.
No it’s not.
Let’s go play Fireman Sam!
Yeah!

Now learning the differences between boys and girls is a normal part of growing up and a certain amount of “that’s for girls” and “that’s for boys” is part of that. And I can see why people would think that a film staring two Disney princesses is “for girls”. But it shouldn’t be. And here’s why.

Stories are how we learn about other people. They are a window into other people’s experience. They might be people like us. They might be very different to us. They may be good. They may be bad. They may be young, old, male, female, human, animal, alien, robot, inaninimate object. Stories help us learn about what it’s like to be others so that we can learn better to be ourselves.

So if boys never watch female protagonist films, they are failing to learn to identify with women, to see them as human too. This matters.

That doesn’t mean boys and girls can’t have different tastes. And it doesn’t even mean that all boys need to watch Frozen. But they should be watching or reading something with a female lead character. Not all the time. But sometimes.

The problem is that the recieved wisdom is that they don’t. Men and boys avoid reading books by female authors. Women and girls don’t do the same. Boys decide that films with female lead characters are just for girls.

No one’s arguing that boys and girls should be forced into the same template. No two people should be forced into the same template. But if we are, as a culture, cutting men off from understanding and empathising with women, we are creating a future of failed relationships, bitterness and division.

I know I’m not the first person to say all of this. But it bears saying again. And now when you watch Frozen with your son, you’re doing just a tiny bit to make the world a better place. Not just being lazy. Honest.